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What's the point, Google (Nasdaq: GOOG ) ?
You're carrying $33.4 billion in cash and marketable securities on your balance sheet, but it's not as if you're going to use it.
The time is right to initiate a dividend policy. Tacking on yield-chasing income investors to your already smitten growth investors can do wonders for your share price. It's also the right thing to do, because what else are you going to do with all of that money?
Let's go over all of the possible reasons to carry $33.4 billion -- and growing -- around these days.
Buyouts? Fuhgeddaboudit! The antitrust bartender cut you off a round ago. Why else has it taken this long to pull off the $700 million acquisition of ITA Software? Why did Groupon supposedly ask for a stiff breakup fee before that potential purchase went bust?
Share repurchases? Please. There's too much pride among the tech dot-com giants these days to buy back stock. Repurchasing shares will likely lead to a lower market cap. There are bragging rights in there, and the world's leading search engine is going to hack away there when it's a good year or two away from passing Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT ) in terms of market cap.
Cushion? Google isn't cyclical. This isn't Ford (NYSE: F ) , that needs a sizeable cash mattress to get it through the lulls of auto demand. Google even grew during the recession. If it ever begins to consistently lose money, there will be bigger problems here than simply cash management.
Interest income? That's a laugher. You're earning a pittance on your idle cash.
The only possible use for that meaty war chest is if you need to ramp up your R&D spending to drum up organic solutions to the acquisition targets that the antitrust regulators will no longer let you buy. Either way, no one can dream away $33.4 billion in projects.
I realize that no one is buying into the search industry for quarterly distributions. Smaller rivals Yahoo! and Baidu (Nasdaq: BIDU ) aren't returning money to their shareholders through dividend payments. However, those companies do have needle-moving acquisitions that they can pull off. They also have a lot less cash than you do.
It's time. I'm not much of a cheerleader when it comes to dividend policies in general. I'd rather see a company do something with its money than hand it back to me in a taxable transaction. However, your situation is very different, Google. That $33.4 billion isn't going anywhere -- unless you want it to happen.
Should Google initiate a dividend policy? Share your thoughts in the comment box below.